Wonderful Wednesday 11/09/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Istanbul – exotic, wonderful Istanbul.

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September is the perfect month for city trips in and around Europe and Istanbul is among my favourites. And now a major exhibition of Anish Kapoor (opened on Sept 10) adds to the lure of Istanbul.

As said by Alphonse de Lamartine, the 19th-century French writer and politician: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople,”

Built on seven hills (all topped by a mosque), the city has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires and bridges the cultures of the Orient and the Occident, both physically and metaphorically. The center of Christendom for over 1000 years and Islam’s seat for another 500 years, it has been a crossroad for trade routes in all directions.

Of course you have to visit the famous Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, but do check out some of the lesser known sights: the Basilica Cistern, a sixth century underground water reservoir, charming Ottoman Rüstem Paşa Mosque, famous for its large quantities of exquisite İznik tiles and the Dolmabahce Palace, a sumptuous palace showing off the decadence of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire (and the place where Ataturk died), with fantastic Bosporus views.

Photos Xiquinho Silva and (right) commons wikimedia

See the city from the water, either on a Bosporus cruise or just do what the Istanbullians do and hop on a ferry to the Prince’s Islands.

Wander through the Grand Bazaar (1461) – the sight of the crazy motorbike chase in Skyfall – with more than 50 streets of jewelry, textiles, leather, pottery and tiles, and the Spice Bazaar (1663), originally a stop for camel caravans on the Silk Road.

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Photo Paul Searle

Add a touch of modern art and visit the first major exhibition of Anish Kapoor in Turkey at the Sakip Sabanci Museum. The exhibition (from Sept 10, 2013 to Jan 5, 2014) is the first to focus on the artist’s stone sculptures in marble, alabaster and materials, many of which have not been seen in public before.

Finish the day in one of Istanbul many clubs, the town’s hotspots with great views of its skyline and the Bosporus.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.
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